updated 12/21/2005 10:29:41 AM ET 2005-12-21T15:29:41

The loser of Liberia’s first postwar presidential elections dropped his legal challenge of the results Wednesday, saying he would accept the outcome in the interest of national reconciliation.

Former soccer superstar George Weah said he decided not to take his allegations of vote tampering to the Supreme Court, clearing the way for the Jan. 16 inauguration of Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf as Africa’s first elected female president.

Weah said he decided to end his appeal “based on our desire to see the Liberian people achieve durable and genuine peace and have the opportunity to carry on the business of national recovery and redemption.”

Asked if he accepted the results of the November ballot, he replied: “Yes, the country needs to move forward.”

Pleading for peace and stability
Weah’s post-election allegations of fraud in a vote that international observers deemed largely clean sparked riots in the capital, Monrovia.

On Wednesday, he sounded a conciliatory note, pleading for peace in a country still reeling from a brutal 1989-2003 civil war that left 200,000 dead.

“I will go on my knees and ask the Liberian people to participate in bringing peace and stability to our country,” Weah said.

The national election commission already ruled his fraud claims unfounded.

Johnson-Sirleaf wasn’t immediately available for comment.

Weah has come under heavy fire from other West African leaders who have expended enormous amounts of time, money and manpower brokering Liberia’s new peace and arranging a military force to secure it.

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